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Ch080-Sticks And Stones

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Time flew by.

After Sylver had successfully finished the ritual to move Flesh and Bones into their new bodies, he slept for 2 days straight. The ritual was simple, safe, and boring, just the way anything Sylver prepared properly for was.

The resulting dead Krists were handled by Ron, who apparently sold them to some of his undead clientele as food, and used whatever couldn’t be eaten as fertilizer for his flower garden. With Flesh and Bones still asleep by the time Sylver was relatively well-rested, he had a day to kill before they would wake up and would need the second half of the ritual.

Documentation was already drawn up for both of them, all that was left was simply entering Arda properly and then settling into their new lives.

Flesh was the sixth son of a very minor noble that lived so far to the east that he was a noble in name only, a distant relative of Martimer De’Leon. Flesh’s new name was Faust. He was a young human man in his early 20s, who had been unable to get a class, and came to Arda in the hopes of finding a solution. A curly-haired woman named Shera offered him work in the adventurer’s guild and his story would start from there. Faust had bright blue eyes, very light blond hair, and had a very lean and muscular physique.

Bones, Bruno, on the other hand, was a half-elf, that was vaguely related to one of Lola’s elven employees and came to Arda to retire. Due to certain circumstances his class and level were locked away, and he came here to start over as a farmer. Bruno was tall, about a head taller than Sylver, his ears were just the slightest amount pointed, and his dark brown hair was tied into a short ponytail. His eyes were brown, and his face was a little too angular compared to the rest of his body. A design choice Sylver didn’t understand but didn’t question either.

Bruno would be given a stretch of land and was going to be working as a farmer and researcher. Lola had found two families to work with/under Bruno, that had lost their villages in some sort of monster attack, to help him with the farm work.

Sylver spent most of the extra day preparing his workshop for his surgery. It wasn’t anything difficult, rather simple by Sylver’s standards. It would be the first time he’d done something so direct on himself, but Sylver felt confident in his abilities. Not to mention [Biological Manipulation] made up for Sylver’s lack of mana.

4 Krists were left alive for Sylver to heal himself after the surgery, just in case. The fact that they instantly died at the moment the metallic rods were removed from their heads made them ideal for use as human sacrifices. If the surgery went according to plan, they wouldn’t be necessary, but it wouldn’t hurt to have them around.

As Sylver wandered around the city and thought about what to do afterward, he found himself in front of Leke’s house. He hadn’t planned to come here and wasn’t entirely sure why he ended up here. He was about to continue walking when Diarla opened the door and looked at him. She furrowed her eyebrows and Sylver really didn’t like the look on her face.

“What?” Sylver asked.

“I would like for you to come inside,” Diarla said. Without the mask and getup, Raba sounded the same but somehow managed to sound meek. Which was odd, considering who she was and who she worked with. Sylver wondered if Raba was the disguise and mask, or if Diarla was.

“I would like for you to come inside” not “would you like to come inside” … What does the Cord want with me now? She normally goes through Ron or someone else, we’ve never spoken face to face like this. Sylver thought.

He turned towards the house and entered. Diarla quietly closed the door behind him and gestured for him to sit down in the living room.

“If this is about the tournament-” Sylver started to say after Diarla had sat down.

“I’d like for you to stop seeing Leke,” Diarla interrupted.

Sylver didn’t say anything. They sat in silence for a few seconds, before Diarla continued.

“She met someone, but she’s being extremely indecisive about it. We’ve kind of agreed you’re at fault here,” Diarla said.

“…Who’s we?” Sylver asked.

“Tera and I. Leke won’t admit it and has been adamant about us not interfering in her personal life, but she’s under the impression there’s some kind of future with you. Which I know there isn’t, and Tera seems to know the same for some other reason,” Diarla said.

Sylver wondered if it was the lack of two guards that made her seem so small, or just the fact that she wasn’t wearing several inches of armor.

“Are you asking me to stop seeing her, or are you telling me to stop seeing her?” Sylver asked, with a slightly cold and calm tone.

“Is there a difference?” Diarla asked. Some of Raba was leaking into her voice. A kind of unspoken threat that was always in the air whenever she spoke to him.

“There is. One is a friend asking for something akin to a favor, but it is being asked, nothing more. And the other is the people I have a working relationship with, throwing their weight around and meddling in my very private affairs. I would like to know who I’m talking to,” Sylver said.

Diarla looked confused at the words, and she scratched the back of her hand as she thought and stared Sylver right in the eye.

“Does your answer change depending on which I pick?” Diarla asked.

“Who knows?” Sylver said with just a hint of anger. He crossed his arms and leaned back into the couch.

Diarla thought it over for a while, a near solid minute as far as Sylver could tell. She spoke with the kind of forwardness and certainty Raba did.

“As a friend. Not as yours but as Leke’s friend. I’m asking that you stop seeing her. On top of how likely you are to die as an adventurer, and the fact that you’re sometimes gone for months on end, you’re doing a great deal of harm to her. Unless you plan on settling down here, which I don’t see happening anytime soon,” Diarla said. It was almost like Raba had said it, while backed up by her two guards.

“If you’re asking as a friend, you don’t get to ask me as someone else,” Sylver asked. Calm and neutral.

“I’d like to think I understand you well enough to know you wouldn’t do something to purposely hurt her. And I’d like to believe that this is simply a case of you not thinking about the consequences of your actions, as opposed to genuinely not caring about her and her feelings,” Diarla said.

Sylver didn’t say anything for about 30 seconds, and simply looked at her and felt around with his soul sense.

“Well, you’re half right,” Sylver said with a defeated sigh. This wasn’t malicious, she was doing this for Leke, as far as Sylver could feel at least.

“Which half?”

“That I wouldn’t do something to hurt her. But you’re wrong about not thinking about the consequences of my actions, I did think about them. I just thought it wasn’t an issue. That if and when there came a point where Leke found someone else, she would be honest with me and things would end there. I am… not thrilled that you’ve told me this because now it’s on me to break things off with her,” Sylver said.

Diarla smiled slightly at this, but it didn’t reach her eyes.

“You’re a lot more… calm about this than I would have expected,” Diarla said, pausing as she spoke to carefully pick her words.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve had this conversation. Although being sat down and having things calmly explained is new for me. Everyone always seems to think I’m a lot less reasonable than I am,” Sylver said.

“Well, you did ask the head of the Black Mane to kill himself as proof of surrender. Via a letter sent through the only survivor of one of their hideouts. After making him watch his friends bleed to death, and explaining that you’re a force of nature, more than a person,” Diarla added.

“That was different. I was acting on emotion and obviously didn’t think he would take me seriously. I had a plan, and appearing unhinged was part of it. And as I said, I was a bit angry,” Sylver explained.

“And when you headbutted Eliot so hard that he had to grow new teeth and threatened to castrate him if he ever so much as got near you again?” Diarla asked. She raised an eyebrow and sat up straight in her seat.

“Also acting on emotion. And it’s his fault for attacking me in the first place. He was fast enough that I barely had time to react, so there is no way he didn’t recognize me the second time. He chose to try and throw me to the ground, and I retaliated,” Sylver explained.

“I guess when you crippled Samuel Du’Rodier’s and refused to undo whatever it is you did that stopped him from being healed, that was also acting on emotion?” Diarla asked, with a slightly raised eyebrow.

“I’ve never said I was perfect,” Sylver said with a shrug.

“He’s still eating through a straw, and there are about 5 different healing sects that have inquired about you and whatever skill it is that you used on him,” Diarla added.

“He got off easy if you ask me. People have been killed for less. I’ve seen what happens when you let small things slide, let alone what happens when it’s such a public and blatant offense against me. And it wasn’t like I sucker-punched him, I challenged him to a fair duel, and he accepted,” Sylver explained.

“Alright, to be fair that one I did kind of understand. Although if it weren’t for the multiple witnesses, I would have thought it was a joke, who steps on someone's back? But what about when, instead of sitting silently and waiting for a lawyer to show up, you started telling the guards the number of hours they had until they were raped and murdered? And then made a man that is famous for holding a grudge, apologize for wasting your time, under threat of having one of his guards kill another guard,” Diarla asked, her voice gradually having shifted into Raba’s.

“Hey, I was the victim in that situation. It’s their fault for being prejudiced against practitioners of the dark arts, and believing in unfounded stereotypes. I was the one wronged back then… but also, yes, I don’t react well when threatened, or when a threat is implied,” Sylver explained with another shrug of his shoulders.

“Uh-huh… And what about when you-”

“Probably acting on emotion, after getting threatened. If you look closely you’ll notice a pattern when it comes to me and violence,” Sylver interrupted before Diarla could bring up another questionable thing Sylver had done in the past.

Diarla had a real smile on her face now, as close to a smirk as possible without actually smirking.

“I’m not sure if I should be relieved or upset that there isn’t some sort of deep meaning to your actions. Your movements make a lot more sense if it’s that simple,” Diarla said as if she were savoring the words.

“I have a goal and I’m striving towards it. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. There isn’t a whole lot of room for ulterior motives when you know exactly what it is you want, and that’s all you want. Everything else is an obstacle or a distraction,” Sylver explained. Diarla’s eyes narrowed slightly.

“So Leke was a distraction?” She asked, with a completely neutral tone.

“In the same way eating, drinking, and sleeping is a distraction. I’m still human at the end of the day, I have moments where I need to rest, where I take time to recuperate and spend it doing things I enjoy… When’s her next day off, I’ll talk to her then,” Sylver asked. He stood up from the couch and adjusted his robe’s collar.

“What are you going to say?” Diarla asked as she also stood up.

“That there’s no long-term future with me and she should be with someone else?” Sylver said.

“Are you sure you want to say that?” Diarla asked, with the kind of tone a parent asked a child if they’re adamant about sticking their hand in a fire.

“I’ll dress it up a little, but that’s the gist of it. Unless you have some sort of alternative,” Sylver asked.

Diarla just stared at him for a while.

“I don’t know how she’ll react to that… But you’re the one who’s going to be doing the talking, so who am I to say what you should or shouldn’t say? Oh, but please don’t tell her I’m the one who told you about this,” Diarla added quickly, practically tripping over her words as she suddenly realized just how much she had gone against Leke’s wishes.

“You know her better than I do. If you don’t think she’ll understand that you’re doing this for her good, I won’t tell her… Although I would advise you to tell her, sooner rather than later,” Sylver said. Diarla barely reacted to his words and spoke as if he hadn’t said the last sentence at all.

“She’s got 4 days off after the tournament ends. I would tell her on the fourth day, if I were you, so it doesn’t ruin her rest,” Diarla said.

Sylver waited to see if there was going to be anything else and left.

*

*

*

“You know, it’s funny. Last night a friend of mine came here with a similar situation,” Salgok said, as he continued to stroke his forge and gave the shades the signal to add more coal.

“Similar how?” Sylver asked. He took another drink of Salgok’s latest creation, and still couldn’t taste the alleged pumpkin. It just tasted like mediocre wine, there wasn’t so much as a hint of pumpkin.

“In his case, it was a lifespan issue, he was terrified at the thought of outliving her and decided the best thing to do was break things off before either of them got too attached. A real shame if you ask me. I sometimes wonder if the old religions had the right idea of keeping everyone separated, things were a lot cleaner back then. You didn’t have to hear about a dwarf who’s barely in his 200s and has outlived his half-human children,” Salgok said, as the shades helped close the forge to let the coals heat up.

“Who’s to say what is right and what isn’t? Life is so unpredictable as it is, trying to marry while keeping something like the average lifespan in mind is ridiculous. How long do dwarves live anyway?” Sylver asked.

“Depends on the bloodline. In my case, I’ve got another 400 something years left, if I’m lucky. Although I’m already at a higher level than my father, so it’s hard to tell. What about you, how old are you?” Salgok countered. He knew Sylver wasn’t human, at least not entirely, but hadn’t pushed the issue after the first time he’d confronted him about being a [Hero].

“Old enough to know I’m doing the right thing, even if I’m not happy about it. It was nice, you know? That someone was waiting for me that didn’t want anything from me. In hindsight, I should have maybe… I don’t know, I can’t say what I would have done differently. I would have spent more time with her I guess, but it wasn’t like I was purposely not seeing her, I was busy with other things,” Sylver explained as he finished his cup of pumpkin-flavored wine that didn’t taste of pumpkin.

Salgok poured him another cup as he sat down. Salgok poured himself something else and swirled the drink around while looking at it.

“Have you ever been married?” Salgok asked.

Sylver choked on his drink and laughed a little. There wasn’t a whole lot of joy in his voice.

“No, sadly. Although I nearly was a couple of times. At the end of the day, the problem was… I knew from the start it wouldn’t end well. I used to have this kind of optimism about things, but after a certain number of failed attempts I made a list of issues and narrowed down the criteria my partner would have to have, and it ruined my chances,” Sylver explained. He tasted a bit of pumpkin this time, although it was so faint it could have easily been his imagination.

“Like what?”

Immortal, at least tier 7 or higher, unharmed by negative energy, hasn’t tried to kill me, isn’t trying to take over the world, not insane, has a physical body, doesn’t- “I can’t put it into words, it sounds idiotic when I say it out loud,” Sylver said.

He’d met exactly 6 people who he had reasoned would be a good fit for him, and all 6 were either already married, or were too scared of him to so much as hold a conversation. Or both.

“If you already knew it wouldn’t work, why did you get involved with her?” Salgok asked. His brows furrowed as he took a sip of his drink and promptly spat back into his cup.

“She caught me at a very strange point in my life. I wasn’t sure of anything, and she was the right amount of open and inviting and one thing led to another and I barely noticed what had happened. I thought after everything… I felt like I deserved to be a little selfish. But as always, I’ve lived long enough to see the consequences of my actions. I knew from the first night it wouldn’t end well, but there were so few things that brought me joy back then, that I chose not to admit it,” Sylver said, adding the last part almost under his breath.

“Aye, you had that look when we first met,” Salgok said. He reached under the counter and pulled the cork out of another bottle and poured himself a new glass.

“What look?” Sylver asked. He finished his potential pumpkin-flavored wine.

“Hard to put into words, now that I think about it. Lost? Confused? You looked like some sort of beaten dog, stuck between wanting to lay down and sleep, and ready to tear someone’s throat open. I was worried that if I let you go to your room that night, I’d have to clean up your hanging corpse the next morning,” Salgok said with a serious tone, which caused Sylver to spit up his drink from laughter.

“And here I thought you were an all-around jolly dwarf. Do I still look like that?” Sylver asked after he had settled down and wiped away the spilled wine.

“It’s still there. Although truth be told, your eyes aren’t doing you any favors. It’s like being stared at by a crow, it’s unnerving. You’re still upset, but It’s less intense if that makes any sense… You said you lost something back then, I’m guessing you’ve come to terms with it not coming back?” Salgok asked. Sylver smiled slightly at this. Amazing how a single sentence can hurt so much.

“I’m used to losing things. But this isn’t something that I’ll one day forget, I’m certain I’m going to die thinking about it. It’s… I can’t even begin to imagine how to describe it. It’s not just that it’s gone, it’s that there’s nothing I can do to get it back. Not just gone, but damaged. Time has withered it, I don’t even know that I could still safely call it mine, even if I do get it back. I’m as worried about finding it, as I am about not finding it,” Sylver said.

“But you’re still searching for it, right?” Salgok asked.

“Of course. Broken, shattered, rusted, wilted, abused, neglected, or even dead, I’m not going to stop looking for it until I’m dead. I wouldn’t be able to call myself Sezari if I did,” Sylver said as Salgok poured more possibly pumpkin-flavored wine.

“Why not?” Salgok asked as he poured himself a cup from the same bottle.

“It’s a name I took. My master’s people had very strict laws about names, especially when they got married. A name is meant to be shared, and her husband was incapable of sharing his name with her, so I did what anyone would in that situation. I took it from him, so she could share hers with him,” Sylver explained.

“I’m not following,” Salgok said.

“It’s a long story. He was given his name in exchange for a promise. And when I took his name from him, I took the promise along with it. I was supposed to give it back when the promise was fulfilled, but by that point in time there was no one to give it back to, even though I had done as he had promised,” Sylver explained. He tasted his drink and found he could actually taste the subtle taste of pumpkin in it.

“I’m still confused. What does your name have to do with giving up?” Salgok asked.

“Not giving up, searching. It means “to seek” in a language that’s long gone. Although it can be interpreted as “one that seeks”, or “one who searches”, or “seeker of something”, depending on the context. He had promised to always look for something, and was supposed to stop once he found it,” Sylver explained.

“Ah… I see, so if you translate it you’re Sylver, the one who searches. Doesn’t quite have a ring to it. What was the last one again?” Salgok asked.

“Seeker of something,” Sylver said.

“So you would be, seeker of silver?,” Salgok asked.

“If we’re translating it would be the other way round. Since my first name in essence means silver, I would be silver seeker. Which is quite funny if you think about it, I’m looking for something that causes me great harm,” Sylver said, as he reached into his robe and pulled out the pure blessed silver dagger Salgok had made for him.

“Silver seeker… Sylver the seeker?” Salgok asked, trying to translate a language he didn’t know, into a language that didn’t have the correct conjugation.

“Well, no, in Erish it would be Sylver Seeker. At least that’s how it can be read when written down,” Sylver explained, as Salgok looked more and more confused at the linguistic cluster fuck.

“Good name, either way. To always finding whatever it is you seek!” Salgok drunkenly shouted as he raised his glass towards Sylver. A lump of coal popped in the background of the dark smith room.

“To always finding whatever you seek!” Sylver shouted back, toasting his glass against Salgok’s.

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KingKennit

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